Underwriters typically boast degrees in economics, business, management, maths or a related subject, although life insurance firms also hire people with biology or medical backgrounds. And after completing their initial two-year underwriting training scheme they are usually assigned to a specific part of the profession – such as property or motor insurance – as assistant underwriters.
Because underwriting is core to the business of any insurance company, to move up the ranks you must not only be technically brilliant at assessing risk, you must also build relationships with colleagues in actuarial, claims and other departments. To move up the ranks you must not only be technically brilliant at assessing risk, but you must also build strong relationships.
Career progression in underwriting essentially depends on your ability to handle increasingly complicated and substantial degrees of risk. Making the final decision on pricing risk for a new aircraft or office block requires a steady, senior hand, for example. If you are up to these types of tasks you will be given more managerial responsibilities and may end up leading large teams.
Some underwriters choose to advance themselves by moving away from consumer insurance products to complex fields like marine insurance. Reinsurance – where almost every case is large scale and demanding – is another good option for ambitious underwriters. Some choose to use their vast knowledge of the insurance sector to move into sales and broking roles later on in their careers.